Taiwan plans to ramp up punishments for those who cause a fatal accident while drunk driving, including the death penalty for the most egregious cases, sparking an outcry from abolition and rights groups.
The cabinet yesterday approved a draft amendment to the Criminal Code that would make death by drunk driving an indictable murder offence, potentially punishable by death if the deed is deemed "intentional", officials said.
The proposal needs parliamentary approval but comes after a spate of high profile deaths that have generated widespread outrage.
Currently the maximum sentence in Taiwan for causing a death while drunk behind the wheel is 10 years. The new proposal would increase jail sentences for repeat offenders who commit a new offence within five years of their first conviction.
They face up to a life sentence for causing a death and 12 years for grave injuries.
"Cases of drunk driving leading to death are rampant... drink drivers recklessly caused accidents that took lives and destroyed families to result in irreparable regret," the Justice Ministry said in a statement.
Very few countries employ the death penalty for drunk driving cases. China has previously vowed to execute those who have killed behind the wheel and some states in the United States retain capital punishment for such cases.